The effects of thermal cavitation on the flow instabilities developing in a three-bladed, tapered-hub, variable-pitch space turbopump inducer are described by illustrating the results of similarity experiments in water carried out at Sitael in the Cavitating Pump Rotordynamic Test Facility (CPRTF). The operating conditions have been varied as required for investigating the onset and response of the fluid dynamic instabilities occurring in the test inducer over a wide range of cavitation numbers from noncavitating to heavy cavitation conditions, both at design and off-design flow. The CPRTF water temperature has been varied from room conditions to 80 °C ca. in order to induce thermal cavitation effects of increasing intensity and more accurately reproduce in the experiments the occurrence of cavitation phenomena in cryogenic space propellants. A wide variety and number of axial and rotating fluid dynamic instabilities have been detected, identified and characterized by spectral analysis of the pressure measurements obtained from statoric and rotoric transducers flush-mounted on the casing and the hub of the test inducer. The results indicate that thermal cavitation significantly affects the types of flow instabilities developing in cavitating inducers and the range of flow and suction conditions for their occurrence.
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